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September 4, 2008

Under The Knife

Windy City Panic Attack

by Will Carroll

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Carlos Zambrano (10 DXL)
The Big Z isn't feeling good, and even Lou Piniella, just days after insisting that Zambrano was fine, is admitting that something is wrong. After five innings of bad baseball, the Cubs are sending Zambrano to see the team orthopedist and will likely be shutting him down. This can be hard to manage at this time of year; if Zambrano is shut down for two weeks, he'll have to come back ready to go in order to get in a couple of starts before the playoffs. Would the Cubs be willing to put Zambrano out there in the Division Series without at least one good regular season start? Zambrano is clearly the ace of this staff, so this isn't exactly an Aaron Cook situation. The most worrisome aspects of Zambrano's start were the arm angle and the quick drop in velocity. By the third inning, he was down from 93 to 90, and by the fourth and fifth he was exerting more effort just to stay in the 90 range. The extra time off might have made him stronger in the early going, but it didn't last time out. The Cubs are going to have to make some some tough decisions soon, but they'll be waiting for word from the doctors first. I don't anticipate good news, and there is late word that Zambrano refused to have an MRI Wednesday, perhaps anticipating a visit elsewhere.

Carlos Quentin (7 DXL)
Joe Crede (5 DXL)

The White Sox seem to be carried by one player at a time, never slumping enough as a team to let the Twins catch up. The worry now is that some of the lingering injuries will cost them, but no team does a better job keeping players healthy. Still, even the best staff can't stop everything. Quentin has been dealing with a forearm strain-I'm told it's a tendon-for over a month, but it's become worse over the past few weeks. The team has essentially shut him down, and they won't get him back before at least the weekend. This is something that will need even more time to work itself out, though my sources seem to think that the medical staff has a pretty good handle on the situation. The problem isn't as easy with Crede; his back is acting up again, and while the team is downplaying this, they're also worried that Crede's uncertain status will force them to make some changes. Sources believe that Crede will be back by the weekend, but they also note that the team has options if Crede needs an extended rest.

Billy Wagner (30 DXL)
Pedro Martinez (7 DXL)

Things look good for Wagner, making the doctor's advice of a few weeks of rest appear to be an adequate fix. After a bullpen session that went well on Monday, he was able to go 36 pitches on Wednesday with no problem. If there's any downside, it's that one observer who saw the session said that Wagner is still not throwing "in anger; it's 85 to 90 percent. " This is important, because Wagner had no trouble last time until he started to throw all-out. The Mets will have Wagner throw again on Friday. Note that he's not throwing on back-to-back days, something that could portend some limitation. The Mets are also dealing with something new with Pedro, who said he was unable to get loose in his last start. He was showing both velocity and command problems, and the Mets have sent him back home to work with his rehab guru, Chris Correnti. The team is prepped to skip Martinez's Saturday start if Correnti doesn't give them the green light.

Ben Sheets (0 DXL)
"Very, very minor." That's how Sheets described his groin strain. I'm not changing my position on players being the worst judges of their own injuries, but Sheets is known to be a bit of a hypochondriac. If he's not that concerned, it's probably... very, very minor. This is the same area that cost Sheets the last two weeks of the '07 season, but this isn't quite as serious. Sheets will be watched closely, and delayed or pulled quickly at any sign of trouble, but no one seems terribly concerned that he won't make his next start. The team needs Sheets to be healthy to prevent exposing their bullpen, and the news that Yovanni Gallardo might be available soon is opening up some interesting possibilities.

B.J. Upton (0 DXL)
It appears that Upton's lax shoulder might be more than just loose. The continual popping in and out stretches the area structurally, and according to one source it's caused a tear in his labrum. It's in his left shoulder and affecting his swing more than his throwing, though if the labrum is torn it's hard to tell how it's affecting him at the plate, given his relatively stable rate stats the past month or so. The chronic problem appears to be something that Upton knows how to deal with, and that the Rays have a good handle on. That he's not taking batting practice is a bit worrisome, but as long as he continues to get the job done on the field, the Rays can't be too concerned.

Jesus Flores (10 DXL)
If you watch the play develop, it wasn't the shoulder-to-shoulder collision that was the problem for Flores. Instead, it was that he was lower than Chase Utley and held his ground on impact. Utley didn't go through Flores, but had his momentum stopped enough that his body dropped onto Flores' bent left leg. When the extra weight dropped, Flores' ankle took the stress. Images were negative, though it was painful and swollen a day later. There is no timetable for his return, and as one of the few bright spots for the Nats this season, I hope they'll be conservative with him.

Yunel Escobar (3 DXL)
The Braves are out of it, and that fact might end Escobar's season. He's been fighting through a moderate shoulder injury all year, and now that it's been revealed that his injury this week was to the elbow and not the same shoulder, we have to wonder if the Braves will point him to the shelf and tell him to get ready for next season. Escobar seems inclined to keep playing and wait to have have surgery in the offseason, but we'll have to see how the Braves perceive the value of this. For a fantasy owner, it's time to have a backup at the ready.

Joba Chamberlain (0 DXL)
One of the things I've learned over the course of my career is that there's a big gap in our knowledge of pitching workloads. With relievers in high-leverage situations, there's a multiplier effect, but we're just not sure exactly what that multiplier is. It also changes depending on the role and the individual factors that don't lend themselves to statistical analysis. It's reasonable to think that the high-leverage relief role of Chamberlain's 2007 approaches a factor of two. Some suggest it may be higher, but a round number works as an example here. His 23 relief innings could be translated out as 46, adding to his 65 as a starter. Assuming he could see 20 more relief innings during September, that's about 150 translated innings. While I wouldn't want to see him going to 200, I'm also not sure a strict reading of the Verducci Effect works here. If Chamberlain started all year and approached 180, I'd worry a bit, but I'm not sure that I'd do what the Yankees are discussing.

Quick Cuts: Yovani Gallardo is throwing simulated games and has a real chance of returning before the season is over. What role he might have remains to be seen. ... Travis Hafner has until the weekend to prove that he's ready, or he'll be shut down. He's been unable to recover quickly enough to play in consecutive games. ... Michael Cuddyer's broken foot is healing slowly, but the Twins still hope he can be activated within the next ten days. He won't play the field soon, but could appear as a pinch-hitter. ... We're still waiting on Evan Longoria to take batting practice. His return will come shortly afterwards. ... Jake Westbrook will have minor hip surgery. He won't lose much time since he's also recovering from Tommy John surgery, and he's on track for a mid-season return. ... Scott Feldman will have his turn skipped in the Rangers rotation; they're watching his innings. ... Jarrod Saltalamacchia won't need surgery, but he is done for the season after injuring his elbow on an awkward throw. ... During my football draft last night, everyone agreed that Joe Nathan looks gassed. ... Justin Duchscherer is using Synvisc in his hip, the first time I've heard of this in baseball, though it's not uncommon in the broader population. Unfortunately, it's usually older people trying to avoid a hip replacement. ... Anyone out there own an Amazon Kindle? ... How perfect is it that it was Alex Rodriguez involved in the first replay? It looks like it worked well, taking just over two minutes, and the world didn't seem to end when it was used.

Related Content:  Joe Crede

34 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

bdoublegeez

Any word on Rich Harden? Is Chicken Little-ism seizing Chicago?

Sep 04, 2008 09:55 AM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

Nothing significant. I'll take "discomfort" at this stage of the season.

Sep 04, 2008 10:17 AM
 
ptakers

Why would a player (Zambrano in this case) refuse to get an MRI? If there is structural damage to his arm/shoulder, 2 weeks of rest isn't going to help. Does Zambrano realize that this year may be the best chance the Cubs have had to win a championship and he's going to roll the dice with his career in order to help the team? He hasn't been effective in a few weeks, so what help could be by resting a damaged arm for 2 weeks?

Also - any updates on Rich Harden?

Sep 04, 2008 09:59 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

Rumor is that he didn't want the dye injected. That takes a couple days to clear the system, so it sounds more like this is Z's disdain for medicine more than anything else.

Sep 04, 2008 10:19 AM
 
sbnirish77

The talk on Chicago radio was that Big Z thought he would need up to two weeks to recover from the dye being used. Does the use of dye at all add anything to the recovery time? Don't remember this being discussed as an issue with Becket recently.

Sep 04, 2008 11:58 AM
rating: 0
 
ptakers

Talking just from my experience - the dye gives you a very warm feeling throughout your body in a very strange way. The sensation is much stronger where there are more blood vessels (?) so you really feel it in your extremities and (gasp) your genitalia. It's not a good feeling by any means - the lab tech even warned me that it would feel like I soiled my garments. I felt pretty icky for a day or two, but that's it.

Sep 04, 2008 12:03 PM
rating: 1
 
ptakers

Ah...having had and MRI before, I get it..."Icky" is probably the best way to describe it.

Sep 04, 2008 11:58 AM
rating: 0
 
rorgel

Thanks for the update on Billy Wagner. Any news on John Maine? Will he be pitch again this season?

Sep 04, 2008 10:07 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

No, Maine's out.

Sep 04, 2008 10:18 AM
 
makewayhomer

hey Will great stuff as usual.

I see that Kevin Gregg is throwing again - odds he comes back this year?

Sep 04, 2008 10:22 AM
rating: 0
 
Shankweather

Re: Kindle. My books are perhaps the last foothold I have on the Old Magic. They're dirty and brittle and take up too much space and I love them. No Kindle for me.

Sep 04, 2008 10:26 AM
rating: 0
 
Jordan Feigenbaum

Here's my thing on the Kindle, and this is a conversation I've had with friends... Using the NYC subways and the SF BART as sources for a most unscientific and very anecdotal poll, I've seen one in NYC and a friend saw a single Kindle in SF.

Basing it on the tech we see on the subways & BART's everyday (iPod's, iPhone's, Blackberries, etc), I think ownership is low, even if Amazon say they've sold $100m worth of them.

Besides, I was peering over the shoulder of the girl on the subway I saw with the Kindle, and for what it costs it seemed awfully flimsy and lo-fi to me. If anything, I'd wait for v2.

Sep 04, 2008 10:34 AM
rating: 0
 
tduren

Salty has a forearm muscle strain, it's not his elbow.

Sep 04, 2008 10:35 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

It's a flexor tendon, so we're both right.

Sep 04, 2008 13:31 PM
 
craigburley

Synvisc. Dandy. Suddenly as an owner of Duch in an all-keeper DMB league I am a lot less confident. Will, does he look likely to be shut down at this point?

Sep 04, 2008 11:43 AM
rating: 0
 
modofacid

Did anyone else think the Utley-Flores collision wasn't exactly a clean play? I know the Nats all came out and said they had not problem with it and all. But I have to think that with that play and the McCann play Utley is gathering a bit of a track record.

Sep 04, 2008 11:44 AM
rating: 0
 
coleman

Hey, Will. Fantasy-related question for me: Any idea if the Tigers will shut down Carlos Guilen for good?

Sep 04, 2008 11:44 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

They have to be thinking about it.

Sep 04, 2008 13:31 PM
 
foulpole75

Will, I know you might have been limiting your comment on Synvisc to hip problems, but Keith Foulke had Synvisc injections in his knee in 2006. It was an interesting drama to watch the Bosox staff try to keep him together that way.

Sep 04, 2008 12:04 PM
rating: 0
 
josephax

Hey Will -- didn't Randy Johnson use Synvisc a few years ago for his cartilage-less knee?

Sep 04, 2008 12:14 PM
rating: 0
 
ptakers

ZAMBRANO UPDATE - per Arlinton Daily Herald (2:30CDT)
"An MRI of pitcher Carlos Zambrano on Thursday morning revealed the big right-hander has some inflammation and rotator cuff tendinitis and may be back pitching as soon as the upcoming series in Houston."

Sep 04, 2008 12:44 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

Or, "exactly what he had before and didn't come back well from."

Sep 04, 2008 13:32 PM
 
abernethyj

Isn't it "Yovani"?

How'd your draft go? I joined the Rog Reviews football league and kind of destroyed in the draft.

Sep 04, 2008 13:05 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

I always get that wrong. Probably bc I always call him "Yo" like everyone else and there's the doubled L in his last name. Edit!

Draft went well for no prep, but I think it was my fifth, so I was already prepped. Ended up getting way, way too many Colts and I have some bye week problems.

Sep 04, 2008 13:34 PM
 
ephinz

Kindle: I've had one for a few months and find it very convenient. The wireless works fine for me as Sprint's network is very strong in my area (NYC) so I can download books quickly without hooking up to a PC (which I have never done.) I can also check the web on it.

Reading books and the newspaper is a lot easy than lugging the two of them around. I do wish Pro Football Prospectus had a Kindle version, though.

Sep 04, 2008 13:32 PM
rating: 1
 
rjblakel

Any word on Kinsler's Sept 9th comeback? Thanks!

Sep 04, 2008 14:14 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

Isn't happening. Rangers announced tonight they're shutting him down.

Sep 04, 2008 19:15 PM
 
ajmorriso

RE: Zambrano
When I hear tendonitis I think "pain" and "irritation". Is this something of a pain tolerance, and performance, issue? Or is it more likely to foreshadow actual damage that will be exacerbated by continued (mis)use?

Sep 04, 2008 18:25 PM
rating: 0
 
Ameer

ajmorriso,
I'm no doctor, but I've had my own experience with rotator cuff tendonitis due to rock climbing + tennis (bad combo). It's a "pain tolerance" issue, definitely, but it's a LOT of pain. Look at Smoltz from earlier in the year. He pitched through it for awhile, and then just decided it wasn't worth it. Mine got so bad that I couldn't throw a tennis ball for my dogs. Also, I may be wrong, but I'm pretty sure weakness can result with continued use and I know that "frozen shoulder" is a possibility. As a Cubs fan, I'm scared...

Sep 05, 2008 06:25 AM
rating: 0
 
Nick J

No kindle here...

What's up with Utley and the Nat's?

Sep 04, 2008 22:07 PM
rating: 0
 
repeater

What's going on with Abreu?

Sep 05, 2008 03:57 AM
rating: 0
 
danmorris

I recently bought a Kindle for a two week trip to South America. With the cover on it feels a lot like holding a book...weight, balance, etc. Reading is much better on the eyes than a computer screen. And it is so cool to have 30 pounds of books shoved into a 30 ounce package. I also love the dictionary feature...2 clicks, 2 seconds and you have the definition of any word. It's not sexy like an IPOD...but a books sex appeal has always been in the reading not in the looking. For reading...its great.

Sep 05, 2008 07:54 AM
rating: 0
 
Andrew Wick Klein

I'm curious about your mention of Joe Nathan, as the evidence doesn't quite line up. His inning total is pretty much on par with where he's been at in seasons past. I think he might just looked annoyed with the terrible defense he's gotten lately.

Sep 05, 2008 12:52 PM
rating: 0
 
manhaus1

Will, you mentioned Chamberlain's innings pitched in this article and how different types of innings pitched are weighted in regards to the Verducci effect. You even gave us a multiplier for relief innings. Are there any ideas out there that show the relationship of DL days and the verducci effect? A number value or a multiplier?
Maybe, if a pitcher needs to spend time on the DL he shouldn't be pushed much farther past the old innings limit?

Sep 05, 2008 13:07 PM
rating: 0
 
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